NRC Research Associate Programs
Fellowships Office
Policy and Global Affairs

Participating Agencies

  sign inOpen Printer View

Opportunity at Naval Research Laboratory (NRL)

Development of Plasma Cathode Electron Sources for Reactive Species


Naval Research Laboratory, DC, Spacecraft Engineering Department

RO# Location
64.15.86.C0647 Washington, DC 203755321


name email phone
Michael S McDonald 202.404.3680


The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) Spacecraft Propulsion Section, part of the Spacecraft Engineering Division, maintains active research in plasma source and diagnostic development in close cooperation with the NRL Plasma Physics Division.  The development of oxygen compatible electron sources finds broad applications in both aerospace and plasma engineering, from plasma actuation to materials processing. In the area of plasma propulsion, the NRL Spacecraft Propulsion Section develops “flexible” electron sources capable of operation on several gaseous species including air, CO2 and water vapor.  These cathodes would enable electric propulsion systems such as Hall and ion thrusters that could one day tolerate operation on any gaseous propellant instead of just noble gases. 

We seek excellent candidates to support research and development of these flexible electron sources. This includes measurement of plasma properties using in-situ and optical diagnostics to understand the principles of electrical current generation in these systems and translate these fundamental findings into novel designs. The candidate will make use of modern manufacturing techniques for rapid prototyping and investigate the use of new materials to achieve the program goals. A highly qualified candidate will have demonstrated experience in generating RF plasmas, global modeling of multi-species plasmas, with standard plasma diagnostics such as RF compensated Langmuir probes, and CAD. Ideally, the candidate will also has exposure or hands-on experience with optical emission spectroscopy and laser induced fluorescence.

Candidates will interface with personnel in both the Spacecraft Engineering and Plasma Physics Divisions. Facilities available include high-vacuum test chambers and supporting equipment for plasma operation and plasma diagnostic evaluation in representative aerospace environments, dedicated ultra-high vacuum material characterization facilities, a wide variety of plasma diagnostic tools, high-power laser equipment, and access to DoD HPC simulation resources.

Plasma; Cathode; Space; Spacecraft; RF; ICP; ECR; Propulsion; Diagnostics; Experimental; Design; Test; Vacuum; Chemistry; Electron;


Citizenship:  Open to U.S. citizens and permanent residents
Level:  Open to Postdoctoral applicants


Base Stipend Travel Allotment Supplementation
$89,834.00 $3,000.00
Copyright © 2022. National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.Terms of Use and Privacy Policy